The national state of emergency has been lifted as of May 18th. It is a sigh of relief for all of us, and we certainly should enjoy the freedoms that it brings and some sense of normal life. Yet, we must remain cautious and considerate of one another, so we do not spread the virus.
I met a former student who brought up a theological question. Why do the church people who teach about the Scriptures that include the promise that even if we drink poison or are bitten by a snake, the poison would not harm us consent to closing up churches? Are they hypocrites?
I knew the passage that he was talking about. Mark 16:18, which is the ending of Mark, the passage that I had gone over many times with my Greek students for it is missing from the oldest manuscripts. I also remember how BMTS’ first rector Andrus Norak once in a class commented about this passage when he spoke about snake-handling churches in Kentucky, where people actually show their faith by picking up poisonous snakes during the service. He said: If even the added words in Scripture have such power, imagine the power of the true word of God! 🙂 . While we believe in God, who works miracles and the Word of God is true in what it teaches. Yet, the Scripture does not call believers to intentionally show their faith by handling the deadly virus carelessly to prove a point.
Jesus, the Son of God, resisted the temptation of Satan when he prompted him to jump off the temple and perform a miracle. Thou shall not tempt the Lord your God! (Lk 4:9-12). Let us all have faith and a good sense not to tempt God. Let us be a part of the solution by helping out and staying strong and healthy.
I got a strong vibe that this person was sparking a controversial conversation because he was stressed out. When people are stressed and lonely, they gripe about life. It is only natural to feel down right now. People are not created to live alone. We get sad and even bitter. We should find a healthy balance and should try to reconnect safely. The obligation to social distance does not release us from a greater obligation to love and care. We are not made to be alone!
The Covid-19 crises in Estonia were focused on the island of Saaremaa, where in March, a volleyball team from Milan unintentionally infected a number of people. The island was isolated and ferry traffic cut. We have several students from Saaremaa, but our first-year student Andra Laum faced this crisis very personally. With her permission, I am sharing from her letter:
The situation in Saaremaa is stabilizing. When the crises began I was sick [with Covid-19] three weeks. The isolation from people, weakness and nausea really tested me. Thankfully my relationship with God changed and I learned something valuable once it was over. Support from my Christian sisters and brothers through prayers and bringing me food and medicine was so wonderful. People that I did not expect, showed concern for me.
After my recovery, I began working in the Covid department as a nurse’s assistant, because there is no physiotherapy, which is my usual job. This time has been difficult, challenging but interesting. I have met many new people who have volunteered and, in part, still work for patients; these people have so much compassion, kindness, helpfulness, and are able to remain calm in the most difficult situations. These qualities for service come to people in such difficult times and it has taught me that we never know how much goodness is around us. Some of them took leave to come to their aid, and in ordinary life, they are not involved in medicine but work in other areas of life. I experienced how much joy it can be when patients in difficult conditions recovered from the virus, how excited the whole ward was when we sent them out the hospital door
I know that only with God have I been able to work in that department. By my own strength it would be impossible for me. I have been able to pray for the sick and face death intimately. Humility to be served and humility to serve others has been my greatest lesson from this crisis.
I am thankful to God every day, that His care has been over people and families. But the biggest problem remains the economic difficulties for many, how to go about life? How will the local employers, on whom so many people depend will manage? These are new challenges that affect all the inhabitants of the island. That would be my prayer request.
As the Estonian government has lifted some rules and allows more activities, we have also entered into a new phase of openness.
Library access is now carefully provided for students who need a place to read, study, and use the internet. This week’s library is now open on Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday from 10:00-16:00. Please follow the safety rules posted in the building.
The Seminary office has also been open more, and there are special guidelines for the use of the entire building. It is good to e-mail Rein Laaneser before you come and see if the matter can be handled from a distance.
Diploma paper defense will take place in person in small groups and using special protections on June 10 and 11. Otherwise, studies continue online.
Faculty and staff members all have their own health needs and risk tolerance levels. We continue to use Teams meetings, e-mail, and phone to take care of the seminary business. Those who need to use the office, please do so responsibly.
We have continued with weekly prayer times to stay connected. Special gratitude to Taavet Taimla, Taavi Hollmann, and Douglas Childress for leading these.
Under the leadership of the Trustees, the Baltic Methodist Theological Seminary has formed a Development Committee to begin the vital work of ensuring that the necessary financial support is available for the important work the BMTS does, to prepare ministers and leaders for the future, goes on. This work includes a dynamic mix of fundraising priorities, which include scholarship development, library improvement, and legacy endowment creation. The information that is being released today is both the result of months of hard work and a more pressing and urgent response to the emerging impacts of the global pandemic impacting the entire world in 2020 and beyond. To find out more, read the documents Case Statement 2020 and Case Statement 2020 COVID Response below.
As the first important goal, the Development Committee has asked that all Trustees will make a gift or a gift pledge by Pentecost as a sign of solidarity. Please send your pledges to Mary Ann Smith. We thank you in advance for your commitment!BMTS Case Statement BMTS Response to COVID-2019
On May 20th, we celebrated the birthday of our District Superintendent Robert Tserenkov. Robert has provided excellent leadership for the Methodist church during this pandemic crisis and during the normal days as well. He has been on radio, television, and numerous meetings and helped pastors to make a transition in and out of lockdown responsibly. BMTS is better and stronger with his wisdom, support, and contribution. May God bless and strengthen him in the new year.
Another wonderful cause to celebrate is that our IT technician Eduard Faizullin and Jekaterina got married on May 23rd. May God bless them both. From now on, they can “quarantine together” for a lifetime.
We continually pray for all who are sick, taking care of family members, homeschooling, and those who face challenges due to this crisis.
Donations to BMTS can be made through the Advance using website:
To find us search for Europe, Education, Estonia, Baltic Methodist Theological Seminary Scholarships
Advance # 15021B
Or use this link: